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Duas Barras Resort, Brazil


THE Brief

There are dinner jackets and then there are dinner jackets; this is the latter . . .

–Vesper to James in Casino Royale, 2007

Said in a sparingly flirtatious manner from the bathroom of their Montenegro hotel room Vesper’s comment to James is no doubt elitist. As she stands wrapped in a silk robe applying make-up to her face laid bare, her comment – echoed visible in the staging of the scene – speaks to the seduction of the almost indiscernible, the allure of the understatement. It is elitism par excellence – a secret – apparent only to those in the know. The latter is not defined by label but a series of relationships, constructed with a heightened sensitivity to their affect: the drape of the fabric over the body, its texture and the particular tone of the white on the skin, the roll and cut of the collar as it sits on the neck, the length of the armhole as it hangs over the shoulder. The aura created is one apparent to the sophisticated eye, its allure and value far supersedes the overt.

Duas Barras is a 200-hectare beachfront property located in Coruripe, Alagoas, Brasil and border to the south by the Poxim River. It 2.4 meter coastline is one of the most beautiful in Brasil, boasting white sand beaches, a year-round temperature of 24.4 degrees Celsius, a tropical and variegated landscape proceeding from aquamarine sea to coconut grove to red-clay cliffs and elevated fields. The programmatic brief comprises 30 villas, a hotel designed by Oscar Niemeyer and stand-alone elements. Of primary importance to the client is the creation of place and an appeal to a largely European clientele.

Architecture was strategised not as signature, but as that which was akin to the dinner jacket, elitist yet attuned to the seduction of nuance and complexity, appreciated by the few, deemed as unexceptional by the many. Entering the project in a weakened state, it was proposed as relational structure subsumed into the design of service and program as primary and extensive, woven as points of spatial and temporal intensity through a connective topographical tissue of lush landscape. The hotel by Oscar Niemeyer eschewed the trend for fashion and branding through its historical and local resonance within Brazilian and modernist history.

A curatorial strategy as masterplan was adapted and a relational structure furthered via a selected panel of practitioners. A process of inquiry replaced the now defunct architectural competition, to rigorously distill a selection of 60-masterthinkers from a list of 800. The brief, for the purposes of the inquiry, was left deliberately open in order to garner the architect’s approach and thinking, to determine which objectives and points of view most closely matched the client’s. A brainstorming panel was assembled to refine and further conceptual ideas. Six practitioners were selected for an on-site retreat the purpose of which was to develop an extensive programmatic brief in collaboration with the client. From these six practitioners the client selected Field Operations to lead the mast plan, which will be submitted for approval in 2009.

The conceptual strategy was developed in tandem with Winkreative to distill a unique programming in tandem with an economically and environmentally sustainable architectural strategy. The project has set a precedent for a curating as master plan and is the basis for an ongoing research project When Economies Become Form, which explores generative economies and the resort as infrastructure in emerging markets. WEBF is an ongoing project conducted in tandem with the Duas Barras Foundation and first hosted at the Berlage Institute, The Netherlands. The project will result in a built construction in Alagoas and a forthcoming publication in 2012.


Duas Barras Site Broadsheet and brief overview Broadsheet cover Broadsheet interior spread Broadsheet interior spread Broadsheet, provocations Broadsheet back cover, exploded axonometric of site Broadsheet, team structure Programmatic Brainstorm Session